KBO alters rookie rules

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KBO alters rookie rules

The Korea Baseball Organization announced a free agency rule change yesterday whereby rookie contracts will be reduced from nine years to eight for players who have graduated from a university and completed their mandatory military service.

“There were talks in the past about reducing the length of contracts for university grads,” said KBO Secretary General Lee Sang-il.

“In giving players who have completed their mandatory military service benefits, we are hoping it will reduce the possibility of our players getting entangled in scandals involving draft dodging.”

The latest change is expected to benefit 150 players, or 31 percent of the current 480 players in the KBO. It will be implemented at the end of the 2011 season.

Under the current rule, if a player graduates from a university and completes the two-year mandatory military service, he will typically be between 33 to 34 by the time he completes his nine-year commitment with a club.

The KBO’s latest decision will allow players to hit the free agency market a year earlier. In order to be eligible for free agency after eight seasons, a player must be registered with the Korea Baseball Association for four years. Those who play for community colleges will not be eligible.

Officials from the KBO officials and league’s eight teams are discussing ways to bring about further changes to the existing free agency system.

“We will discuss further changes at a meeting to be held with team officials in December,” said Lee. “It has always been a popular topic in the past but there is a larger consensus around the league that the free agency system needs change.”

While the latest change is certainly a step forward, it falls short of the expectations of many players and Korean Professional Baseball Players Association officials.

“It’s regrettable that the league carried out such important changes without consulting us,” said Kwon Si-hyung, secretary general of the players association. “We submitted a proposal to the KBO last season regarding changes to the free agency system.

“In comparison to the proposal from the players, the latest changes are very limited.”

By Choi Min-gyu [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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